Historical Revolutionary Terrorism Versus Modern Revolution Terrorism — Has Anything Changed? Abstract

HistoricalRevolutionary Terrorism Versus Modern Revolution Terrorism — HasAnything Changed?

Abstract

Thispaper has examined the question of whether there is any differencebetween the historical revolutionary terrorism and modernrevolutionary terrorism. It is established that contrary to theemerging views that revolutionary terrorism has evolved, nothingtends to have changed so much about the modern revolutionaryterrorism— the pretexts, the courses, and the outcomes remain moreor less the same the bone of contentions is always subject to theright-wing and leftwing power conflicts. Three situations ofpolitical events (People’s Will Revolution, the Russian Revolution,and the Arab Spring Revolution), which correspond to events in the19th, 20th,and 21st centuries, have been chosen for analysis. A look at theseevents reveals the revolutionary terrorism is similar in manyrespects. In one way, terrorism happens when some groups (the leftwing) are dissatisfied with the government regimes (right wing).Here, the right wing consider the radical terrorists as enemies ofthe people, while the revolutionary terrorists see the right wing asthe main enemies of the people. Secondly, terrorism only happensbecause one group is so frustrated that terrorism is considered to bethe only way to spur revolts to achieve desirable reforms. Lastly,all the instances involve violence resulting in the massive loss oflives and property.

Oneof the challenging social issues as far as the subject ofinternational relations is concerned, is how to create a peacefulsociety with harmonious relations that satisfies the call forhumanity. As evidenced by numerous on-going conflicts around theworld, it seems quite clear that the peace process is not an easyone. Terrorism is perhaps the most adverse of the humanitarian crisesthat the society is grappling with. Indeed, this concern isjustifiable considering the conflicts involving terrorism are havingfar-reaching social and economic consequences threatening thesustainability of affected communities, claiming lives and causingmassive loss of property. The case of Arab Spring is only one of themany notable examples of ongoing conflicts involving terrorism thatworries the society. Several attempts have been made to addressterrorism, but these have been mainly constrained by competing viewson how to conceptualize and even address terrorism. The opinion thatterrorism is evolving and needs rethinking the conventionalapproaches is perhaps one of the evolving and contestable viewpoints.Therefore, the question of particular intrigue is whether there isany difference between the historical terrorism and modern terrorism.

Thispaper argues that contrary to the emerging views that revolutionaryterrorism has evolved, nothing tends to have changed so much aboutthe present — the pretexts, the courses, and the outcomes remainmore or less the same, while the bone of contentions is alwayssubject to the right wing and leftwing power conflicts.

MethodologicalFramework

Whilethere are different forms of revolutionary terrorism in the annals ofhistory, as well as events to consider as modern revolutionaryterrorism, this paper opts to narrow on three past political events:the People’s Will Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the ArabSpring Revolution. The choice of three events hinges on the notionthat they happen to correspond to different centuries of politicalhistory. Moreover, although the current issue requires consideringvarious parametric aspects revolutionary terrorism, the present paperopts to narrow on circumstances resulting to terrorism events, inaddition to the nature of terrorism tactics employed, the impact ofterrorist occupations and nature of relations between the opposingsides. As Chaliand&amp Blin (2013)observe, these parameters happen to be the common areas ofdisagreement. In essence, the analysis focuses on three questions:what causes revolutionary movement? What does the revolutionarymovement aim to achieve? What are the consequences of therevolutionary terrorism? A look at the events on these threequestions shows they are all similar in nature.

ThePeople’s Will was a 19thCentury revolutionary organization that staged terrorist activitiesin Russia in the advocacy of the indigenous socialism based onRussian peasantry interests. The movement was mainly comprised ofsocialist intellectuals who believed in the use of terror to coercethe government into political reforms. The cause of the revolutionarymovement was that the Tsar government had failed to honor the will ofpeople, impoverishing peasant communities for their selfish politicalinterests, instead. The socialist intellectuals, most of them youngmembers who had just secured employment in the rural areas and nowhaving adverse experiences with the massive injustices committed bythe Tsar government, felt that they only way to liberate the countrywould be through a radical terrorism. The revolutionary movementemployed violence with the aim of spurring revolts against Tsarism,resulting in the assassination of TsarAlexander II in 1881. Besides, the movement also served as aninspiration, as well as a forerunner of various socialist anarchismand revolutionary organizations such as the Russian SocialistRevolutionary Party (Cohen, 2013).

TheRussian Revolution occurred 1917 resulting in the dismantling of theautocracy of Tsar and paving the way for the rise of the SovietUnion. The revolution led to the collapse of the Russian government,which was later succeeded by the communist government. Therevolutionary movement was orchestrated by a problematic propertysystem that had for a long time excluded the peasant communities. Atthat time, the population and culture of the peasant community weredrastically changing, characterized interaction of peasants fromurban and rural areas that created a leeway for radicalization basedon the elementary property theory asserting it was time for land andgoods to belong to people who worked on it. The political dissent wasexacerbated by the attitudes over the adverse living conditions thepeasants had been exposed, characterized by an overcrowded housing,subjection to long working hours, poor work health and safety, lowwages, increasing costs of living and harsh disciplinary measures.Therefore, the evolutionists believed the only way of achievingreforms was to espouse to terrorist activities to spur revolts totopple the Tsar governments (Yarmolinsky, 2012).

TheArab Spring describes a wave of revolutionary demonstrations,protests, riots, and civil war that occurred in the Arab countriesstarting as of December 2010 in Tunisia, culminating to a successfulTunisian revolution, and then extending to Arab League countries.Other countries in which the revolution happened successfullyincluded Egypt and Libya, but civil uprisings were also evidenced inKuwait, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Iraq.According to Adam, Willis, and Garton (2016), the Arab Springrevolution is widely believed to have been caused by dissatisfactionwith government activities, characterized by massive corruption,bribery, and dictatorship that caused social and economic problems.The revolutionaries considered that the only way to achieve thepolitical reforms was to oust the government through revolution andthat revolutionary terrorism was the only way to attract publicattention and spur revolts against the government (Dabashi, 2012).

Inconclusion, this paper has discussed the question of whether there isany difference between the historical revolutionary terrorism andmodern revolutionary terrorism. It is established that contrary tothe emerging views that revolutionary terrorism has evolved, nothingtends to have changed so much about the present — the pretexts, thecourses, and the outcomes remain more or less the same while the boneof contentions is always subject to the right-wing and leftwing powerconflicts. Three situations of political events (People’s WillRevolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Arab Spring Revolution)that correspond to events in the 19th, 20th,and 21st centuries, have been examined. A look at these eventsreveals the revolutionary terrorism is similar in many respects. Inone way, terrorism happens when some groups (the left wing) aredissatisfied with the government regimes (right wing). Here,right-wing consider the revolutionary terrorists as outlawed andunjustified, while the extremist terrorists see the right wing as themain enemies of the people. Secondly, terrorism only happens becauseone group is so frustrated that revolutionary terrorism is consideredto be the only way to spur revolts to achieve these reforms. Lastly,they all instances involve violence resulting in the massive loss oflives and property.

References

Adam,R.,Willis, M. &amp Garton Ash, T. (2016), CivilResistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters.Oxford University Press.

Chaliand,G. &amp Blin, A. (2013). The history of terrorism: from antiquity toal Qaeda. University of California Press.

Cohen,S. (2013) Bukharinand the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography 1888–1938.Oxford University Press: London

Dabashi,H. (2012). TheArab Spring: The End of Post colonialism.Palgrave Macmillan.

Yarmolinsky,A. (2012). Roadto Revolution: A Century of Russian Radicalism.New York: Macmillan.